Church of the Purification (1731-35), Southwest View, with Vologda River in Winter, Vologda, Russia


This southwest view of the Church of the Purification of the Virgin across the frozen Vologda River was taken in 1997 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Before the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, Russia depended on a northern route through the White Sea for trade with western Europe. One of the most important centers on this route was Vologda, founded in the 12th century. A rich center of medieval Russian culture, Vologda has numerous churches still standing, in various states of preservation. The Church of the Purification of the Virgin, built in 1731-35 on the site of a 17th-century wooden church, is situated on the left bank of the Vologda River in Zarech'e (the district "across the river" from the town center). The tall main part of the church has an ornamental cornice and is crowned with five domes. A low vestibule leads to a stately bell tower on the western side of the church. The church form combines 17th-century features with Western elements such as the bell tower spire, influenced by early Saint Petersburg baroque architecture and renovated in the 1830s. The festival to which the church is dedicated is also known as the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, one of the 12 Great Feasts in the Orthodox Church.

Last updated: January 11, 2016